Freedom of Information

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 4 February 1998.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow 1:40, 4 February 1998

Pursuant to his oral answer of 30 July 1997, Official Report, columns 322–23, what representations he has received from broadcasting interests on freedom of information. [25368]

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I have received a letter from the chief executive of BBC News, which said that the BBC would submit a corporate response to the freedom of information White Paper in due course.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow

How about the investigation rights of journalists?

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

It would be very strange if the Freedom of Information Act brought in restrictions on the role of journalists—[Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I will not have such noise from Government Members either. [Interruption.] We want no geese in the Chamber. I hope that I have made myself clear and that we shall not have this on any other Wednesday.

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

It will be right and proper for any publicly funded organisation such as the BBC to be open to freedom of information, but nothing must be done to restrict investigative journalists or to put pressure on journalists to disclose sources. We made that clear and that is my commitment.